PELICANS: accompanied by slow bluegrass

Poetry by Louis Gallo
Issue 49 • March 2017 • Radford

you’re down in Cutoff, Louisiana
with a girl you crave
and you stop for shrimp po-boys
in this shack with a reputation
and, yes, so delicious
with a chilled bottle of Dixie

she came with a camera
and shot you leaning on a piling
where squatted a pelican
and then you lounged on the back seat
of the van with her on your lap
smoking a joint or two

you start to unbutton her blouse
because everything seems right
but she brushes your hand aside
and giggles and you know what
that means so you give up
though you don’t get it

another pelican swoops down
onto the hood and stares you down,
the girl now asleep, drunk maybe,
dreaming of the best po-boy she ever had
with exactly the correct blend
of horseradish—how do they
concoct it so perfectly?

but of course you remain bleak
because no po-boy however fine
tastes delicious as that girl’s lips
and soon you never see her again
and you’re far away now
in a place where no pelican flies

no Christ-like pelican to feed
the young with her own blood

Louis Gallo teaches at Radford University and was the the founding editor of the now defunct journals The Barataria Review and Books: A New Orleans Review.

Illustration by Paul Hostetler

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